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Pre-Conference Workshops

SDP is pleased to offer three half-day workshops on the day before the conference, Wednesday 15 March 2017.

Workshop 1 (morning): Value-Focused Decision-Making. This workshop, presented by Ralph Keeney of Duke University, focuses on enabling professionals in all stages of their career  to identify values, take control of their choices, be more proactive as decision makers, remove constraints, and develop a consistent guide for their choices. More details can be found here.

Workshop 2 (afternoon): Value of Information. This workshop, presented by Ellen Coopersmith and Luis Mendoza of Decision Frameworks, is targeted to decision professionals that seek to simultaneously minimize their expenditures and maximize the effects of their information gathering activities, such as pilot projects, experiments, and data purchases. More details can be found here.

Workshop 3 (afternoon): Building Organizational Decision Quality. This workshop, presented by  Carl Spetzler and Mazen Skaf from Strategic Decision Group, and organized by Dr. Bruce Judd from Strategic Decision Group, uses a combination of survey information, presentations, focused break-out groups, and pertinent case studies to investigate the principles and best practices for building organizational decision making to help attendees in their quest for improved decision quality in their organizations. More details can be found here

Workshop Fees

These workshops are subject to a separate fee as follows:

  • One half-day workshop:   USD 300 per person
  • Two half-day workshops:  USD 450 per person

A light lunch is included in the workshop fee.

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Workshop Details

Workshop 1 (half day, morning): SOLD OUT

Value-Focused Decision-Making

Instructor: Ralph L. Keeney, Duke University

Abstract: This workshop addresses five key aspects of good decision-making:
  • Thinking about first things first, specifically identifying your values for any decision to describe what you hope to achieve before beginning to solve it
  • Taking more control of your decision problems that occur, by creating alternatives better than those initially available
  • Being a proactive decision maker, by creating your own decisions, referred to as decision opportunities, to raise your quality of life above where it currently is
  • Removing constraints of others on alternatives that you desire to pursue
  • Providing a consistent guide for all of your decisions by describing how to identify, organize, and use your strategic life values
Good decision-making requires skills that can be practiced and improved. Concepts and procedures to develop the decision-making skills mentioned above are thoroughly described and illustrated by numerous real applications.

This workshop is limited to 40 participants.

About the Workshop Leader
Ralph L. Keeney
Ralph L. Keeney received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is Research Professor Emeritus of Business Administration, Duke University, and Research Professor Emeritus of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Southern California. His areas of expertise are the decision sciences, risk analysis, and systems management. He is an authority on decision analysis, decision making with multiple objectives, and value-focused thinking. During his professional career, Dr. Keeney has consulted on a wide range of decisions including corporate management problems, public policy, environmental problems, and energy decisions. He has been a consultant for several organizations including Fair Isaac, Seagate Technology, American Express, British Columbia Hydro, Pacific Gas and Electric, BC Gas , Kaiser Permanente, Hewlett-Packard, the Electric Power Research Institute, Greater Vancouver Regional District, Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG (Germany), Ministry of Public Works (Mexico), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria), U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Professor Keeney's books, which have been translated into numerous languages, include Decisions with Multiple Objectives with Howard Raiffa (1976, 1993), ValueFocused Thinking: A Path to Creative Decisionmaking (1992), and Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions, with John S. Hammond and Howard Raiffa (1999). He recently received an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo in Canada and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering of the U.S.

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Workshop 2 (half day, afternoon):

Valuing Information – Sharpening Skills to Make Quality Testing and Piloting Decisions

Instructors: Ellen Coopersmith and Luis Mendoza, Decision Frameworks

Abstract: Businesses are often faced with technology advances which have the potential to "change the game” …execute their business in a better, faster or cheaper manner. Unfortunately, risk is often associated with the use of some new technologies, making the decision to deploy difficult. When this occurs, testing or piloting the technology prior to full scale implementation may be considered.
This workshop introduces a practical, repeatable approach to framing and evaluating test or pilot decisions. Faced with a new technology case example, attendees will practice framing testing options, with different costs associated, forecasting the amount of risk/uncertainty reduction associated with each and valuing the business case for the different tests considered.

Take away from the workshop:
  • Understanding of the fundamentals of valuing information
  • Step-wise workflow to value of information (VOI) decision problems
  • Means to conduct "uncertainty reduction” assessment interviews
  • Introduction to uncertainty reduction vs. test cost plots
  • Decision trees to value test options considering 100% reliable and imperfect information tests
Who should attend this workshop?
Decision analysts, planners and managers supporting testing, piloting or other information /de-risking decisions.

This workshop is limited to 30 participants.
About the Workshop Leaders
Ellen Coopersmith
A Petroleum Engineer, Ellen Coopersmith graduated from the Colorado School of Mines and is based in Houston, Texas. She has spent the last twenty years specializing in Decision Analysis consultation, training, and implementation. Ms. Coopersmith worked for 16 years at Conoco, where she led their implementation of Decision Analysis in Upstream for five years. She is an accomplished technical and managerial facilitator, as well as a published author and invited speaker on both the implementation and technical elements of Decision Analysis.

Luis Mendoza
Based in Houston, TX Luis joined Decision Frameworks in 2013 as a lead consultant. He holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University, M.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, and completed course work toward a Ph.D. in Operations Research and Decision Analysis from the University of Texas at Austin prior to joining the company. Luis' current focus in decision analysis is decision/strategy framing, value-of-information analysis, and economic modeling and probabilistic analysis. His prior experience in healthcare includes the application of management sciences in decision support at the Baylor Healthcare System in Dallas, TX.

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Workshop 3 (half-day, afternoon):

Building Organizational Decision Quality

Instructors: Carl Spetzler and Mazen Skaf, Strategic Decisions Group
Organized by Bruce Judd, Strategic Decisions Group

Abstract: In a workshop setting, participants will learn principles and best practices for building organizational decision quality (ODQ). In facilitated breakout group sessions, we will discuss the challenges that we foresee or have faced in our own organizations, with an opportunity to learn from each other.
The workshop is built on these elements:
  • A pre-course survey of all participants
    • What is the current level of ODQ within your domain in the organization?
    • What types of decisions could benefit most:
      • "Strategic” decisions that are very complex, they are worked on for weeks or months, and they shape the future of the organization
      • "Significant” decisions that are important or complex but merit only a few hours of work before they are made
  • Presentations by the instructors with these themes
    • What is organizational decision quality?
    • What does it take to achieve it?
    • What are the benefits?
  • Breakout group discussions on overcoming challenges identified in the survey 
    • Participants will be grouped by the type of challenges they face. Further segmentation will be based on participants’ roles in organizations:
      • Aspiring practitioners trying to sell their boss on decision quality
      • Internal consultants selling the concept to the organization’s leaders.
    • Because the results of the survey will not be known until near the time of the workshop, the content of each breakout group discussion will be established immediately prior to the workshop
    • Facilitators for each breakout group will be chosen based on breakout content and facilitators’ experience levels. There will be a short report-back to all participants by the facilitator from each discussion
  • Short case studies from organizations that have been recognized for their achievements in ODQ (for example, Raiffa-Howard Award winners)
    • The case-study presenters will be selected from among the Society's most experienced practitioners.
    • The presenters and topics will be based on major themes identified in the survey or those anticipated before final survey results are in. 
    • The case studies will be limited to 15-20 minutes each, in most cases following the breakout sessions.
    • Presenters should include "encouragement and cautions” on ideas reported back from breakout discussions
  • Summary and Wrap-up by workshop leaders
About the Workshop Leaders
Carl S. Spetzler
For four decades, Dr. Carl Spetzler has helped top management create innovative new strategies that deal with the complexities of uncertainty and risk over long time horizons. Dr. Spetzler is chairman and CEO of Strategic Decisions Group and program director of the Stanford Strategic Decision and Risk Management certificate program. He frequently leads executive seminars and briefings and has published papers on strategic management, planning, and decision analysis. Dr. Spetzler received an MBA and a PhD in economics and business administration and BS in chemical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). He serves on the boards of IIT and the Decision Education Foundation. In 2004, Dr. Spetzler received The Ramsey Medal, the highest honor awarded by the Decision Analysis Society of INFORMS for lifetime contributions to the field. In 2006, he was elected to the SRI Hall of Fame for his leadership in the growth of decision analysis at SRI. He is a Fellow in the Society of Decision Professionals.
Mazen Skaf 
Dr. Mazen A. Skaf, partner and managing director with Strategic Decisions Group (SDG), has extensive experience in strategy, corporate development, decision process transformation, and risk management.  He has advised clients in a variety of industries including energy, technology and communications, and pharmaceuticals.   As several of his successful clients in the private sector took on cabinet-level appointments in the public sector, he has had the opportunity to work with them on transformative policy design in economic development, optimal resource allocation, and public-private partnerships. 

Dr. Skaf holds a BS summa cum laude in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas and an MS and PhD in engineering-economic systems from Stanford University.  In 1998, he was elected Fellow of the Stanford Center on Conflict Resolution and Negotiation.  In 1999, Dr. Skaf and his client Donald W. Spillman from Shell Offshore, Inc. received the first INFORMS Decision Analysis Society Practice award for their work in portfolio management.  He is also a Fellow of the Society of Decision Professionals.  Skaf is a Wall Street Journal Expert Panelist on topics related to energy.  His research and work have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg Businessweek, and several other publications.

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